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ACSU to craft education plan

MIDDLEBURY — Addison Central Supervisory Union officials will spend the next year creating a strategic plan, and they’re asking for the public’s help. The plan will, for the first time, clearly define and codify the ACSU’s educational priorities for children educated in the district’s seven elementary schools along with Middlebury Union middle and high schools.
The ACSU is inviting folks to apply to serve on a 15-member “ACSU Strategic Plan Steering Committee” that will craft the plan after soliciting feedback at a variety of forums while reviewing a wealth of already-completed district studies and statistics. The process is expected to culminate in a document in June of 2015 that will help the ACSU create a better game plan for educators and school boards, and ultimately lead to better instruction for students, according to district Superintendent Peter Burrows.
It’s a document that’s to become one of the first signature achievements of Burrows, who this week marked the first year of his tenure at the helm of the ACSU. And he pledged, during a recent interview, that the strategic plan would not simply gather dust on a shelf.
“We don’t want to end this process with a piece of paper and no further movement,” Burrows said. “The goal is to have a document to record the work that we’ve done, and to continue that work forward. We want to embed the strategy piece into the organization; we want to stay dynamic.”
He explained the process will also involve creation of some “action teams” that will continue to oversee and evaluate the plan — and recommend potential changes — from year to year.
“I think this is a natural step forward and it’s also where we’re at in ACSU,” Burrows said of the strategic plan. “We’ve had a lot of great programs and an incredible group of educators … It’s time for us to come together and work together to set our sights on a few, singular initiatives that will have a big impact on students and the community.”
Burrows explained that the ACSU currently has a “vision statement,” but it dates back to 1995.
“It’s really time for us to come together and build on our mission,” Burrows said.
Burrows said the Strategic Plan Steering Committee will include himself, two additional ACSU administrators, three ACSU board members, four faculty, two students, and three members of the community at large, such as parents, business representatives or people working in higher education.
The ACSU covers the towns of Bridport, Weybridge, Cornwall, Shoreham, Salisbury, Ripton and Middlebury.
Those seeking appointment to the committee must apply by July 15. Applicants can find the appropriate form on the ACSU Web site, www.addisoncentralsu.org, which includes a link to the strategic plan category.
At the outset of the strategic planning process, the committee will work on new mission and vision statements for the ACSU. From there, the steering committee will help form action teams to look at the different foundational goals the community will set through the mission and vision statements.
The action teams will look at school data and reports that have been generated to date, and also look ahead to the types of programs, services and initiatives the ACSU might want to adopt. The teams will also recommend some student performance measurement tools and strategies to make sure the district is making progress toward its educational goals.
Burrows looks forward to seeing a lot of people apply to become part of the Strategic Planning Steering Committee.
“We are not really looking for specific experiences, but people who are really committed to a deep, comprehensive look at the ACSU and helping us to move forward and continue the great work we’re doing — and also expand and seek out greater innovations and being sure we are reaching all students,” Burrows said. “We know we are doing a great job, but I think we can do a better job.”
Mark Perrin, chairman of the ACSU board, said the subject of the strategic plan emerged around three years ago, and became an important talking point during interviews with superintendent candidates.
“It’s something we wanted them to tackle,” Perrin said.
He expects a “democratic and inclusive process” in preparing the plan, which he described as a document that will “ensure (the ACSU) has students ready to move into the world ready to succeed as lifelong learners.”
Perrin added the plan cannot be a one-size-fits-all proposition.
“Individuals come to learning from different experiences,” he said.
The steering committee will be asked to meet for a half-day session each month, beginning in September. Plans call for the panel to convene for a full-day retreat on November to set up the action teams. The strategic plan will take effect for the 2015-2016 academic year, according to Burrows.
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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